Is the Tin T3 Still Relevant?
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Hey guys, welcome back to the neighborhood. Today’s we’ve got the Tin T3 up for review. I’ve had the T3 for a while, and its not my favorite iem, straight out of the box, but there’s some pretty easy work-arounds that are great for both music and gaming. So let’s get into it...
The Tin T3, is another Tin HiFi product. It superseded the Tin T2, and the Tin T2 pro which were pretty popular, and came in between the T2 pro and the T4. Unlike the other Tin models previously mentioned, the T3 differs from those models in terms of it's driver configuration. The T3 consists of 1 Balanced Armature and 1 Dynamic Driver. And much like this choice by Tin HiFI, the T3 is a unique circumstance.
Externally, the T3 is mostly built like its cousins- small metal bullet shell with an MMCX connector. Unlike the T4, which I did not have a problem getting to seal with a variety of tips, the T3 was difficult to seal in my left ear with any tip other than foam tips, most likely due to the limited length of the nozzle. Starting with the T2, it kind of became code to only use the bright blue foams, which traditionally came with these sets. And the T3’s does sound pretty good with their included foams and fit well with them too. I also used mercury foams from Dekoni Audio, and these sounded and fit similarly as well. If I could have got the fit to sustain, then CP100’s and Spiral dots would have been good silicon options for me from an auditory perspective, but alas I could not sustain the fit, and therefore, I ultimately went back to foams.
Lately, I’ve been using some tips from Linsoul. They were sent to me as a gift from Farsil, the Wizard.
They are supremely comfortable, and do a good job of adding some low-end for "foamies," and they smooth out the frequency response range- but they certainly don’t do anything to tame the treble on the T3.
In regards to the cable, this is one of the prettiest, best stock cables I’ve ever seen, and I’ve used it as an unbalanced cable for a number of other sets. I’m not the biggest fan of MMCX connections on cheaper sets such as these, but unlike the T4, my T3 and its cable has withstood the test of time and continues to produce a solid connection.
So, what’s up with the sound of the T3?
Even though they don’t exactly graph like it, they sound somewhat flat in terms of their sound signature; but with some boosted treble on top. In terms of their treble, I’d say that the treble is somewhere between the T2 and the T2 pro in terms of its intensity. The treble on the T3 does test my tolerance limits, and I find it slightly grating or prickly at times. It is mildly shouty, there is some mild treble glare at the very top end, and there is also some mild sibilance on particular tracks here or there.
The mid-range is more forward than a lot of in-ear-monitors, and the bass is pretty flat in terms of presence with mild dynamic impact. Nevertheless, driver integration is done very well for a hybrid and the T3 has great articulation for an IEM- especially one of this size and build.
However; I do find the bass on the T3 to be the leaner side. evem despite its neutrality. In general, I find that the T3 needs some kind of a bass boost for enjoyment during lengthier listening sessions. The Centrance DACportable has a decent bass boost for the T3, but the iFi Zen Dac’s true bass switch is something special with this IEM. With this dac/amp the true bass switch tends to roll of the treble, just a wee bit, lessens the glare, and thickens up the overall presentation. In addition, this eqaulization setting provides a richer, more dynamic lower end.
The T3 has a crisp, airy, and somewhat-open presentation in the upper registry, and very good staging in general for a bullet IEM. It’s not supremely wide, but it has natural accurate stage, with good width and depth to it.
Separation is good, images are distinct, and place accurately within their stage. Length of decay and transients are accurate and impressive at the same time. It isn’t the most detailed IEM ever, but it does have a supreme amount of detail, clarity, and really good resolution for it's price range.
In the end, even though the treble does have its sharp little bits, which do test my patience, here or there, I am able to tolerate it for the most part, and I am ultimately willing to turn a blind eye to it somewhat in exchange for the detail retrieval that the Tin T3 provides. If I were going to recommend a monitoring IEM for beginners, it might be this one. As I already alluded to, treble extension tests the limits, and there’s decent bass extension down into the sub-bass region- even if it does roll-off more the lower it goes.
Negatively, timbre does have a slight metallic tint to it, but it is very slight, and positively, this may contribute to the T3’s effervescent character. Uniquely the T3 does retain a certain amount of liquidity despite it being on the dryer and crispier side of things. There is some obvious sharpness, but the sharp bits aren’t super forward even though they are definitely present.
Lately, I’ve been getting asked by a lot of people: “Hey you! What’s a good gaming IEM?” And my answer almost always has been this one. The T3 has a good amount of detail and resolution, such that you can hear delicate footsteps, and precise imaging, such that you can know where these footsteps are coming from. Additionally, the T3 has a rather large and immersive sound-stage, such that one still enjoys their gaming experience. If you want more of a heightened sense to things for a competitive advantage, consider using these without the bass boost, while if you want a bit more fun, turn one on.
I did find that the T3 was somewhat source dependent; however, sounding more engaging and immersive on certain amplification more so than on some others. I enjoyed them most on the Centrance DACportable and the iFi Zen Dac.
If you’re look for a great introductory set-up for both music and gaming, consider the Zen Dac at around $130 with its true bass switch; paired with the Tin HiFi T3 for $60 bucks, or so. With this particular set-up, you won’t be disappointed having obtained excellent sound quality for both music and gaming, and only having spent just shy of $200 dollars in doing so.
Compared to the Tin HiFi T4 with spiral dots, the T3 is brighter, more metallic in its timbre and somewhat drier sounding, Vocals are less forward and more neutral with regard to their presence. Even with a bass boost applied to the T3, the T4 is warmer, smoother, fuller sounding and more pleasing, particularly in the low end. The T4's sound stage is smaller, more congested, at least in width, and instrument delineation isn’t as distinct. Additionally, imaging isn’t as precise in the T4. It has a slight advantage due to its balanced armature, but I’m going to give both detail retrieval and ultimate resolution capabilities to the T3. While the T3 sounds flatter to my ears overall, the T4 is more engaging across sources, and has better tonality. The T2 is the least amp dependent of these particular Tin HiFi offerings. It is also the warmest, but with regard to it's other sonic characteristics, you kind of get what you pay for.
So is the Tin HiFi T3 still relevant? For the right person, perhaps a gamer, I think it still may be, but that person needs to like an exacting, airy presentation, with almost too much treble detail.
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